In a word: Choice

We are often told that it’s the choices we make that shape our lives.

It’s true.

What distinguishes the basis of those choices is the circumstances of the individual.

What a lot of people don’t realize is the diversity of backgrounds of everyone, and that in a minority of cases, the few that really have no choices at all.

Yes, there are those who have no control over their circumstances, and therefore no choice whatsoever.

Inevitably, the people who are first to criticize those who apparently made the wrong choice, are those that have never found themselves in similar circumstances.

And probably never will.

This perhaps is the biggest problem with governments who are staffed with advisors who do not understand the plight of the common man.

I never had the same opportunities as those who could afford a university education.  My family were working class and were relatively poor.  Had I not hot a scholarship who knows what sort of education I would have got, if any.

Certainly, my father never got an opportunity to get a good education, but, at the time, during the great depression, his choices were limited, whereas those with any sort of wealth it was a different story.

And his lack of choices reflected on us, and that lack of opportunity haunted all of us as time passed.

It was always a case of the haves and the have not’s.

Yes, we all have choices, but sometimes it really is the lesser of two evils, and not whether we will have the fillet or the rib eye steak.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 65

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

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This is Chester.  We both agree that summer has come early.

But that’s about all we can agree on.   I’m going to start calling him a cranky cat.

For the last week or so the temperature has been hovering in the low 30-degree Celcius mark, and we have been subjected to the constant aroma of smoke from bushfires raging north and south of us.

Normally, the hot weather doesn’t arrive until after the middle of November, and then the temperatures are around 30 degrees with moderate humidity.

Now, it is hot, with Sunday being about 36 degrees Celcius, and not a day to venture outside the airconditioning.

And, that’s where the cranky cat and I disagree.

He likes to sit at the back door and collect the breeze that flows from the front door to the back door and hates it when I run the airconditioning because I have the doors closed.

When that happens, he comes into the office and sits on the table next to the printer with his angry face on.

I figure using the printer might disturb his protest, but it doesn’t.

And to ignore him is at your own peril because, after a few minutes of silent protest, he comes over and starts pushing keys on the keyboard.

One day I expect he will type ‘you are a very bad servant’ for that I am.

Now, where’s the food he really hates!

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 65

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160903_123228

This is Chester.  We both agree that summer has come early.

But that’s about all we can agree on.   I’m going to start calling him a cranky cat.

For the last week or so the temperature has been hovering in the low 30-degree Celcius mark, and we have been subjected to the constant aroma of smoke from bushfires raging north and south of us.

Normally, the hot weather doesn’t arrive until after the middle of November, and then the temperatures are around 30 degrees with moderate humidity.

Now, it is hot, with Sunday being about 36 degrees Celcius, and not a day to venture outside the airconditioning.

And, that’s where the cranky cat and I disagree.

He likes to sit at the back door and collect the breeze that flows from the front door to the back door and hates it when I run the airconditioning because I have the doors closed.

When that happens, he comes into the office and sits on the table next to the printer with his angry face on.

I figure using the printer might disturb his protest, but it doesn’t.

And to ignore him is at your own peril because, after a few minutes of silent protest, he comes over and starts pushing keys on the keyboard.

One day I expect he will type ‘you are a very bad servant’ for that I am.

Now, where’s the food he really hates!

In a Word: Egg

 

This is another of those words that can be used for manly different situations.

But…

What happened to it being just an egg, you know the sort you can have for breakfast, fried, scrambled or boiled.  Or eggs Benedict.

Or…

We can go down that path where the discussion is about what came first, the chicken or the egg?  Don’t ask me, it could be both.

So, now it seems egg has a few other meanings that could be considered somewhat obscure, such as,

He is a good egg.

Wow, comparing someone to an egg?  I guess I’d hate to be compared to a rotten egg.

 

What about, the crowd egged the man on to start a fight.

Well, perhaps a couple of rowdy schoolboys looking for some action behind the shelter shed, or at least that’s what we called it when I went to school (when I’m told, dinosaurs walked the earth)

 

Then,

If you do something embarrassing, then you are said to finish up with egg on your face.

Oh dear, been there a few times.

 

Or…

If you were to put all your money into that match tree forest in Ecuador, that’s the equivalent to putting all your eggs in one basket.

In other words, when you discover that the match tree forest in Ecuador was really your financial advisor’s private bank account and he’s now living in a non-extradition country, you understand just what that expression means.

In other words, diversify.

And lastly, if the above happens to you, then it’s time to go on an expedition, to find the goose that laid the golden egg.

Searching for locations: The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

The sight of the Peninsula Hotel is very familiar to all who visit Hong Kong, if not to stay but certainly if you want to see the last vestiges of British influence in what was once a far eastern colony.

That is, we’re talking about the front building, not the new tower at the back.  In the older days there would have been a great view of the harbor from the Veranda (that area with the blue striped canopy) where today, breakfast is taken.

We had breakfast, lunch, and the famous afternoon tea in the ground floor cafe.

These days you would mostly see taxis, buses, and Teslas, if not a flurry of Mercedes and green Rolls Royces in the small car park below.  There is no clear view of the harbor anymore.

From our room, one facing the harbor we could see the space museum, and on the day we arrived, rain, at times, blotting out the harbor and Hong Kong Island barely discernable in the distance.

As for the room itself, it was excellent, a junior suite, I think, because it had two distinctive areas.  Everything was run from a tablet computer, blinds, lights, television, and most importantly, air conditioning.  This was the first hotel I’ve stayed in where it was neither too hot or too cold, but just rights.

The bed was very large and extremely comfortable, as were the pillows.  Pillows, I’m afraid, are a bugbear with me, as no hotel seems to be able to get it right.  They’re either too soft or too hard, too tall, or too shallow.  Here, they managed to get it right.

The windows were just the right size not to affect the air conditioning, ie. let too much heat in.

I’m not sure I could say the lounge chair was comfortable, but there was only one, which makes it difficult if there are two of you.  I wasn’t going to fight for it.

The desk had a surprise in the bottom drawer, a printer!

And the bathroom, though slightly smaller than expected, had some hint of what it may have been like in the early days.  It had both a shower and a bath.

Searching for locations: The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

The sight of the Peninsula Hotel is very familiar to all who visit Hong Kong, if not to stay but certainly if you want to see the last vestiges of British influence in what was once a far eastern colony.

That is, we’re talking about the front building, not the new tower at the back.  In the older days there would have been a great view of the harbor from the Veranda (that area with the blue striped canopy) where today, breakfast is taken.

We had breakfast, lunch, and the famous afternoon tea in the ground floor cafe.

These days you would mostly see taxis, buses, and Teslas, if not a flurry of Mercedes and green Rolls Royces in the small car park below.  There is no clear view of the harbor anymore.

From our room, one facing the harbor we could see the space museum, and on the day we arrived, rain, at times, blotting out the harbor and Hong Kong Island barely discernable in the distance.

As for the room itself, it was excellent, a junior suite, I think, because it had two distinctive areas.  Everything was run from a tablet computer, blinds, lights, television, and most importantly, air conditioning.  This was the first hotel I’ve stayed in where it was neither too hot or too cold, but just rights.

The bed was very large and extremely comfortable, as were the pillows.  Pillows, I’m afraid, are a bugbear with me, as no hotel seems to be able to get it right.  They’re either too soft or too hard, too tall, or too shallow.  Here, they managed to get it right.

The windows were just the right size not to affect the air conditioning, ie. let too much heat in.

I’m not sure I could say the lounge chair was comfortable, but there was only one, which makes it difficult if there are two of you.  I wasn’t going to fight for it.

The desk had a surprise in the bottom drawer, a printer!

And the bathroom, though slightly smaller than expected, had some hint of what it may have been like in the early days.  It had both a shower and a bath.

Searching for locations: Hong Kong Park, Hong Kong

After arriving in Hong Kong early in the morning, we were taken to the Hong Kong Conrad Hotel where we were staying for several days.  We had a short sleep, then I took the grandchildren for a walk and we found Hong Kong Park, with a Fountain Plaza, waterways, a waterfall, and turtles.

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Part of the fountain area.

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Turtles resting on a rock

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A turtle about to go in the water

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The waterfall.

It was a pleasant surprise to find this park in such a highly built-up area.

Nearby was a multi-story underground shopping center that was huge, and very conveniently accessible from our hotel.

Memories of the conversations with my cat – 63

As some may be aware, but many not, Chester, my faithful writing assistant, mice catcher, and general pain in the neck, passed away some months ago.

Recently I was running a series based on his adventures, under the title of Past Conversations with my cat.

For those who have not had the chance to read about all of his exploits I will run the series again from Episode 1

These are the memories of our time together…

20160902_123201

This is Chester.  He’s decided to be my personal alarm clock this morning.

It was a two-pronged attack.

First, he jumps from his bed, which, in our room, is a pile of blankets on a massage chair, on to our bed just about where my pillows are, regardless of the fact I might be lying there.

It can be quite disconcerting, as he decided to go for a walk across the back of the bed.

Even more so if he decided to let us know he’s not happy.

Come to think of it, when is he ever happy?

Second, he wanders down the end of the bed and lies down on your feet.  Being a Tonkinese, he’s a lot heavier than he looks.

If you decide to gently ease him off with a few subtle foot movements, he then starts attacking your feet.  This can be a painful exercise in summer if all that covers your feet is a sheet.

So, this morning…

We stayed up late to watch the last four episodes of Jack Ryan series 2.  It’s one of those things where you get hooked, and don’t realise the passing of time.

Consequently this morning I’m tired, and it’s past cat feeding time.

I should know better than to ignore him.

When the first two wake up calls fail, he goes to a third, comes right up in my face and taps me on the shoulder, then lets me know just how unhappy he is with me.

Oh well, sleeping in is over.

 

 

In a word: Pray

It’s usually associated with the church, and saying a prayer for someone or something, but it kind of covers a lot of different situations, like,

We’ll pray for rain, we’ll pray for Mary to recover, I’ll pray for forgiveness.

In other words, in all of these instances, we are looking for intervention by God.

There is another instance, not related to religion, in that in a general sense you can pray for good weather over the weekend because they’re going camping.

In fact it is basically to hope for something very much.

It is, in a sense, wishful thinking, because in reality, no-one can predict, let alone dictate, what the weather will be.

It is also a forceful way of saying something, like,

Where the hell have you been, pray tell?

There is another word that sounds quite similar, prey.

That describes a creature that is hunted by another for food.

It’s also someone who is easily deceived or harmed.

It could also be something that preys on your mind

Searching for Locations: Hong Kong

Sometimes the experiences we have often find their way into stories.  This was certainly one of them:

Remarkably, the Peninsula Hotel experience began at the arrival gate.

The moment we stepped out of the air bridge and into the terminal building, a representative of the Hong Kong airport was waiting with a card with our name on it.  She was there, with driver and electric car (sometimes called a golf cart) to ease our way through the immigration and baggage formalities.

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No walking for us, which was fine by me.  It’s a train ride and a long walk from the gate to immigration.  And after all the sitting on the airplane, walking was not the first thing I was looking forward to.

The drive took a few minutes, slowed down by many other passengers walking towards the same destination, most wondering why two relatively young people like us (even if we are in our 60’s) were getting a ride.

After clearing immigration, which took very little time, and where there was a very short queue considering the number of arrivals they handle, we were met on the other side by our airport representative, and taken to the baggage carousel.

Another simple process, our bags were almost waiting for us.  From there we exited customs, and out representative handed us over to the representative of the hotel.  I thought he was the driver.

He took us through to the limousine lounge and directly to our car, a very clean shiny new looking green Rolls Royce, the ultimate in the airport to hotel transportation.

Inside it was immaculate, and astonishing, and very, very comfortable.  I could image the Queen riding in the back of one.  It took about 30 to 40 minutes, one of the quietest, most smooth rides I’d ever had, and worth every cent we paid for it.

The bucket list now has one less item on it.

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The arrival at the hotel was effortlessly handled.  We were met by two of the check-in staff and escorted to our room on the fourth floor.

There was just enough time to take in the amazing foyer, front entrance and twin staircases leading to a mezzanine floor, before getting into a waiting elevator and taken to our floor.  As an aside, the mirrors in the elevator were like something out of a hall of mirrors, you look into the mirror and see dozens of yourself looking back.

It’s an effect I’ll have to take a photo of.

We have been upgraded, and out room is larger than the one originally allocated.  It has a view of the Space Museum, the Veranda Cafe roof, and parts of Hong Kong harbor.  It is overcast and raining so it does not matter about the view.

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It’s Hong Kong, and that view will change every hour.

Formalities over, we are left standing in stunned silence.

We have arrived.

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They say getting there is half the fun.

They’re wrong.

Or at least in the case of the Peninsular Hotel they are.

If just getting to the hotel via the signature Green Rolls Royce is any indication, there had to be a lot more in store.

We booked a room in the ‘old’ hotel and it was categorized as ‘deluxe’.  The Peninsula adds a whole new meaning to the word Deluxe.  If this was one of their lower priced rooms, then I’d love to see their better rooms.

But the room itself is not the sum of the experience; it is also the aura within the building, the service, which is quiet and unassumingly polite and unobtrusive.  You are ushered from the front door, held open by a very elegantly dressed concierge, to your room without so much as a heartbeat.

The details, well, they are mere details that cause no concern, all taken care of before you arrived.  We arrived early, before the advertised check-in, and this fazed no one.  Room available, tired travelers sigh in relief, knowing a hot shower and several hours sleep would not be possible.

I was more than pleasantly surprised, and exploring the hotel would have to wait.

For a few hours anyway.